Provision of Land & Assistance Amendment Bill [B40-2008]: adoption of NCOP Amendments: Minister & Department's briefing & adoption; Department's Annual Report 2007/08 briefing

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

17 November 2008
Chairperson: Mr R Mohlaloga (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department and the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs briefed the Committee on the amendments being proposed by the National Council of Provinces to the Provision of Land and Assistance Amendment Bill. The amendments included new definitions for “agricultural enterprise”, “Department”, and “enterprise”. In Clause 4, there was a new arrangement of Clause 4, pertaining to Sections 10(1)(b)(iv). The words from “which he or she considers suitable” through to “specific cases” were to move down one line. A new Clause 10A was then proposed, relating to a trading entity. Some Members objected to the amendments proposed by way of the new Clause 10A but this objection was overruled by three other ANC Members and one DA Member. An ANC Member argued that the Department of Land Affairs current policy of buying up land proactively, with the aim now of redistributing it, would lead to disaster. In his experience, people had over the years had to buy more land to farm more productively and profitably. He said that unless there were plans in place to ensure that land brought from one would immediately be transferred to others who already had skills, technical knowledge, infrastructure and monitoring, this would lead to disaster.

The Committee received a lengthy briefing by the Department of Agriculture on its Annual Report for 2007/2008. This consisted of the Departmental officials reading through the document (attached) that detailed each of the programmes, their achievements and challenges. Members noted that they were in many cases unhappy with the Report, which they noted had not addressed the real issues and tended to report only on the successes. Although the Chairperson congratulated the Department on being one of the few to achieve an unqualified audit report, with no emphasis of matter, this did not mean that the Department was doing well overall.

Members questioned the Department’s livelihoods, economics and business development programme, asked whether the assistance rendered through the programme was sufficient to enable beneficiaries to earn a sustainable livelihood, and whether the Department was really alleviating poverty or unwittingly driving the people down into a deeper mire of poverty. Members commented that although they interacted with their farmer constituents, they did not see much evidence of implementation of these programmes and their value to farmers. It appeared irresponsible that funds earmarked for fire and other assistance were left unused in the North West, KwaZulu-Natal, and Limpopo to assist farmers. Members asked that any genuine difficulties must be explained. There was also interrogation of the cooperation across Departments, in light of some apparently conflicting statements in the presentation, the suspension of a Deputy Director General pending investigations, the failure of the Department to notify members about the new credit scheme and other projects, the delays in obtaining land, the situation with the Land Bank, the delays in rendering assistance from Disaster Management funding, and bio-safety and genetically modified organism programmes. Members criticised the amounts made available for some projects, commenting that they were not sufficient, and suggesting that there should be an inter-departmental planning committee. Members were severely critical of the fact that several projected targets given last year had not been achieved. Further criticisms were expressed about the numerous errors of editing, proof reading and content in the presentation. It was agreed that some of the questions must be responded to in writing, and that further engagement with the Department was necessary.

 

Meeting report

Provision of Land and Assistance Amendment Bill (the Bill): Amendments proposed by NCOP: Department of Land Affairs (DLA) briefing
Mr Mduduzi Shabane, Deputy Director General, Department of Land Affairs and Mr Sunday Ogunronbi, Director, Land Planning and Property Law, briefed the Committee on the amendments that had been proposed to the Provision of Land and Assistance Amendment Bill (the Bill). They noted that during the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) process, the National Treasury had proposed the establishment of a Trading Entity, which the Department of Land Affairs initially had not supported. However, after further discussions with the National Treasury, the Department of Land Affairs had agreed with the NCOP’s proposed amendments, which were then passed on 11 November 2008. These were now tabled at this meeting. The amendments included new definitions for “agricultural enterprise”, “Department”, and “enterprise”. In Clause 4, there was a new arrangement of Clause 4, pertaining to Sections 10(1)(b)(iv). The words from “which he or she considers suitable” through to “specific cases” were to move down one line.

A new Clause 10A was then proposed, relating to a trading entity, and this was set out in the attached document.

Discussion
Mr S Abram (ANC) said that he was opposed in principle to purchase of ongoing enterprises. He believed that these would lead to a bureaucracy that would eat away at the income of enterprises, and pointed out that agriculture already did not have a high profit rating. He cited the examples of various farms in which the income from the enterprise was not enough even to pay the salaries of some of the administrators of the enterprise.

Mr Abram said that there was a dichotomy. In the case of immovable property alone, the administration would not be too arduous but if there was a business on it then he believed there would be a large administration problem. He asked that it be recorded that the buying up of running enterprises with moveable assets would be regretted. If there was not immediately a succession plan whereby the purchase from one person led smoothly into the takeover by another, the moveable assets would deteriorate fast.

Mr Abram noted that to date, the Department had failed to give up-to-date records of the entities that it had already bought prior to this Bill on what he described as a “purchasing spree”. He thought that many of the moveable assets would not now be able to be found. He was also concerned at the trend that the Department was proactively engaged in buying land, but would then decide that the property was too large for one beneficiary and would divide it into several portions. That, in his view, was a recipe for disaster. Unless the Department had a plan already in place prior to purchase, and the beneficiaries were already skilled and had the necessary capital and technical assistance and mentorship, it would cause more problems than it cured. He wanted the Department to tell the Committee exactly what it had bought and what had become of that land. He claimed that he could give examples of a dozen farms that have been bought up where there was very little happening on the ground. He also said that he feared that, although the Department had some excellent officials, there were not sufficient loyal officials to give the true picture. He did not believe, in short, that the Department could achieve what was set out in the Bill.  He also warned again against the “cutting up” of farms, saying that a person could make a living on 10 to 15 hectares of irrigable land, but this would not be productive if the land was not irrigated, as five to seven hectares per head of stock were needed for grazing, and to prevent over-grazing.

Dr A Van Niekerk (DA) said that this Bill would only succeed if different departments were able to synchronise themselves, with someone in charge of the whole. The problem was to some extent being rectified, since in the past people were given land but not the infrastructure to farm it productively. However, he, like Mr Abram, was worried about the management. Different departments and the Land Bank were involved, but no one was taking final responsibility.

The Chairperson said that colleagues from the Department of Agriculture would be interested, since there was a narrow definition being applied to agriculture here.

The Chairperson asked if the definition of enterprise was a universally accepted definition.

The Chairperson asked, in relation to the amendment to Clause 10A (2), how the proposed entity would act with regard to land that had already been disposed of. He asked about the accounting records of land that had been disposed of.

 The Chairperson clarified that respondents must explain the definitions of ‘trading account’ and ‘trading entity’, since that appeared to be the focus of the confusion.

Ms Jeannine Bednar-Gigose, Director of Fiscal and Intergovernmental Legislation, National Treasury explained that the term ‘trading entity’ was chosen, as opposed to ‘trading account’, because ‘trading entity’ was clearly defined in the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) as an entity operating within the administration of a department for the sale of goods and services, with the approval of the National Treasury. The National Treasury had indeed proposed to the Department of Land Affairs that the most appropriate mechanism would be to establish a trading entity. The PFMA made it clear that funds of such an entity were separate from those of the department concerned and should be accounted for separately.

A ‘trading entity’ did not necessarily mean that a large staff complement was required in order to ensure that there was a separate accounting system. That was the key concern of National Treasury, who had undertaken to assist the Department of Land Affairs (DLA) in the establishment of the entity and provide on-going advice and assistance, in the interests of the National Treasury and the country.

Advocate Dirk du Toit, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs, remarked that the Public Finance Management Act was almost as important as the Constitution. He referred to Section 38 (1)(j), which Ms Bednar-Gigose read to the Committee before explaining the implications.

Mr Shabane said that he firstly wanted to address the general issues raised by Members. He stressed that land reform was being implemented in the context of the land and agrarian reform programme. It was not the sole responsibility of the Department of Land Affairs, which was working in conjunction with the National Department of Agriculture (DOA), and with the provincial departments of agriculture. These Departments acknowledged that, with all the will in the world, the State could not have the capacity to do all that was required. It had therefore adopted the private-public partnership framework, through which the Department was levering the resources of the private sector, including the commercial banks, to help with the expertise that the State lacked.

Proactive land acquisition was but one land acquisition instrument at the disposal of the Department of Land Affairs. Of course, it contributed a substantial amount in terms of budget.
 
Answering the questions posed by Mr van Niekerk and Mr Abram, he said that part of the failure of the past, as identified in a review undertaken by the Department, was that for example when land was acquired with standing timber on it, then the value of the timber growing on the land was greater than the value of the land. The crops must be at the disposal of the emerging farmers. In the past, many beneficiaries lacked even operating capital. A decision was taken to put these assets under the control of land reform officials, so that the assets could start to generate revenue before the State disposed of them. The Department had circulated a draft implementation plan, and was very mindful of the causes of the past failures, being lack of skills, equipment and funding.

Mr Shabane then addressed Mr Abram’s concern about the dividing of farms. The Department had stopped the division of a farm in the Free State precisely because of this kind of concern, having accepted the complaint of the Free State Agricultural Union that such division was unworkable.

Mr Shabane said, in relation to capacity, that it was possible to purchase any number of dairy farms, but such farms without cattle would be doomed to failure.

Mr Abram pointed out that many farmers were working up to 18 hours per day.

Mr Shabane acknowledged that the Department found itself in a dilemma. If it did not provide resources to the farmers, they would fail automatically. This was the reason for trying to adopt an integrated approach. Until now, land reform had primarily focused on land acquisition, but it could not be seen as a stand-alone, nor would providing funding work on its own. The Department believed that this Bill could contribute to the transformation of the agricultural sector, by ensuring that existing assets would remain on the land and be at the disposal of beneficiaries.

Mr Shabane said that the Department’s budget was increasing, and gave figures.  The Department was establishing a financial management directorate. The Department was recruiting directors with financial accounting and cost accounting skills.

Mr Shabane then assured the Members said that acquisition of land was still going to be carried out by the Department. The DLA, with the assistance of the Department of Agriculture, would tighten its criteria of selection of farmers to benefit from land acquisition. This would minimise the present failure rate.

Mr Sunday Ogunronbi, Director, Land Planning and Property Law, Department of Land Affairs, addressed the questions around definitions, and emphasised that the Department of Land Affairs was the sole department involved in the acquisition of land.

Ms B M Ntuli (ANC) called for further explanations. She spoke with passion, saying that she feared the proposed new entity would operate in a similar way to Eskom and the poor would suffer. If the Committee were to pass the amendments, she felt that the Members would be betraying people to whom a better life had been promised.  She pleaded on behalf of the vast numbers of poor people who were in desperate need and struggling every day to find food.  

The Chairperson confirmed that it was not a public entity that was to be established, but a trading entity.

He then asked that the Committee vote on the NCOP’s amendments.

In respect of Clause 10A(2) Mr S Abram (ANC), Ms B Ntuli (ANC) and Mr D Dlali (ANC) raised an objection.

However, three other ANC Members and Mr A Nel (DA) voted for the adoption of this particular amendment, defeating the objection.

Members therefore adopted all the NCOP proposed amendments to Clauses 1, 4, and the insertion of the new Clause 10A.

Department of Agriculture (DOA) Annual Report  2007/2008: Briefing
Ms Njabulo Nduli, the new Director-General, DOA, and colleagues from the Department submitted the Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture (DOA), as contained in the attached document. She gave an overview noting what programmes had been carried out, as listed on page 3 of the slide presentation. The Livelihoods, Economics and Business Development Programme was described, noting that this promoted equitable access to the agricultural sector, commercial viability and growth of emerging farmers and work towards achieving food security. It would also promote Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE). The performance and challenges of each sub-programme were listed.

The objectives and achievements of MAFISA were then described, with a note of the number of programmes dealt with and the funding. The achievements under the Land and Agrarian Reform Project (LARP) and support to farmers were also described, listing those projects across the provinces that had been supported. 304 agricultural cooperatives and self help groups (SHGs) were profiled. A training programme on cooperative governance and management was rolled out and 105 agricultural cooperatives were established across the provinces.

The draft Marketing of Agricultural Products Amendment Bill was completed and discussed with the provinces. Funds were delivered to two centres of excellence.

The purpose, programmes, and challenges of the Bio-Security and Disaster Management programme were then set out. It was explained that this programme sought to develop and implement policies for food safety, agricultural risk and disaster management strategies in order to control animal and plant disease and ensure food safety. Drought-coping Strategies were completed and were translated into 10 official languages. Other pamphlets and bookmarks were also distributed.

The Production and Resource Management programme, which managed productivity and sustainability in agriculture, was described, with a note of the achievements and challenges.

The presentation also reported on the inspections, survey and analyses, infrastructure, sector services and partnerships, capacity building, and trade agreements.

In respect of the financial statements, it was noted that an unqualified audit certificate with no emphasis of matter had been issued. The spending was at R3.32 billion, as against a final appropriation of R3.45 billion, and the reasons for that were explained, which included Classical Swine Fever claims, capital projects not yet billed by Department of Public Works and a drilling rig not delivered. This under spend represented 0.6% of the total appropriation. The summary set out the main achievements of the Department.

Discussion
The Chairperson noted that there was little time left, since Members had to attend in the House.

Mr D Dlali (ANC) expressed concern that the Committee would not have sufficient time for its interaction with the Department of Agriculture about the 2007/2008 Annual Report. 

The Chairperson noted Mr Dlali’s concern.

Mr Abram expressed concern that the Deputy Director-General responsible for business development was not present, and asked to know why. He wanted to know if this official was involved in the purchase of any land, whether it was on behalf of the Department, or whether it was done in his personal capacity. If there was an enquiry against him, Mr Abram wanted to know the scope of that enquiry.

Ms Njabulo Nduli explained the absence of this deputy director-general. As a precaution, this person had been suspended for 60 days on account of some newspaper allegations about his conduct while in the service of the Land Bank.  The suspension would enable the Department to investigate these allegations, together with allegations arising from a forensic audit report. The Department would keep the Committee informed about that process.

Mr Abram noted that the Department was involved in a new credit scheme. He asked for details of the partnership, what motivated it, and why the Committee was not informed of it at least by a letter.

Mr Abram wished the new Director-General well, but wished to stress to her that this Committee was concerned with delivery on the ground. Although some of the questions might appear difficult, the Committee was mindful of its responsibility to represent the people with whose interests it had been charged.

Mr Abram noted that in regard to the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) there had been under performance, whilst there were many people seeking assistance. Apart from their capacity problems, he asked that the Committee be informed of the specific difficulties that the Department had faced, such as inability to verify potential beneficiaries.

Mr Abram also asked about the Land and Agrarian Reform Programme (LARP).

A Departmental official responded that the first pillar of this Programme dealt with land acquisitions.

Mr Abram asked about the Department’s confessed delays in obtaining delegations for the disposal of land agricultural land and departmental land, other than DLA land.  He wanted to know why there were such delays, and what the Department had done to ensure that those delays were minimised.

The Acting Deputy Director-General for Livelihoods, Economics and Business Development, DOA, responded on the delays, stating that the category of State land which the Department of Agriculture was managing related to land from the Agricultural Credit Board. The delegations for the disposal were still in the Ministry of Public Works. The documents must be processed up to the Minister of Public Works for approval and it was this process that was taking some time.

Mr Abram expressed regret at having to say that control of the Land Bank had been lost. He had predicted that the Bank might as well close down. He wanted to know what the Department’s role was in relation to the Land Bank, with regard to assisting the people, especially where the Bank was engaged in foreclosing at the moment. He asked what the Department of Agriculture was doing to prevent people from losing their land.

The Acting Deputy Director-General for Livelihoods, Economics and Business Development responded that the Department of Agriculture was working with Mafisa on certain areas of concern. The Department of Agriculture had signed two agreements with the Land Bank; one being a participation agreement and the other an agreement for them to keep the funding for the Department to be able to enter into agreements with other institutions that would be accredited to Mafisa.

Mr Abram said that the export of meat to the European Union had been lost. The cause of the loss appeared to be poor implementation of policy, but he sought the exact reasons for the loss of this market, and why there had apparently been a failure to ensure that South Africa’s meat had been certified free of all problems.

An official from the Department denied any loss of export markets. Although South Africa was not exporting any beef currently, it was exporting ostrich meat in large quantities, followed by game meat, and it was also still exporting milk and dairy products, and some other products in smaller amounts. Meat products were therefore still being exported and it had not lost any markets to the European Union at all.

Mr Abram asked what attempts the Department had made to render assistance and relief immediately with regard to disaster assistance. There were many subsistence and emerging farmers who suffered in this process.  

Mr Nel also asked about the delayed payouts from disaster funds. This was a major problem, since those in need required immediate assistance, and should not have to wait for two years. He asked if the problem lay with roll-out at community level or in obtaining funds from the Treasury.

The Department responded that, in the past, it had not been possible to plan for disasters, since there had never been any prior allocation of funding for disaster management. The Department was working with the National Treasury to establish a fund, so that as soon as disasters happened the Department could disburse funds to those affected. Capacity to assess and report disasters differed from one province to another. Some provinces, but not all,  had teams in place to make an immediate assessment of a disaster.  The Western Cape was performing very well in this regard. Its turnover time in assessing and extending disaster relief was, on average, only two weeks. The Department sought capable assessors to reduce turnover time.

Mr Abram asked why machinery and drilling equipment had been withdrawn with the result that boreholes could not be drilled. He also asked what contingency plans had been put in place.

Mr Abram warned the Department that Land Affairs was likely to become the next ‘pseudo-agricultural’ department, because that Department was going to buy up farms and enterprises, and would engage in farming. He asked about the quality of interaction between the two Departments that would enable them to do that.

Mr Abram said that in view of the fact that the Department of Agriculture had been unable to assist with CASP beneficiaries, allegedly because of lack of capacity, then the question must be asked how DOA could then intercede to ensure success of the Department of Land Affairs’ endeavours.

Mr Abram said that the Department of Agriculture provided attractive packages to assist people, and agreed that this should be one facet of the Department’s activity. However, in order to enable people to become commercial farmers he suggested that the DOA then had a responsibility to liaise with organised agriculture, to ensure that every large commercial farmer in the country released one employee to run land that the Department would buy up and to assist emerging farmers to become successful farmers. He offered this suggestion in the light of the Department of Agriculture’s admission that it could not promptly identify beneficiaries. This would give the commercial farmer a buy-in, as he would be proud that one of his employees had been chosen by the DOA and would want that employee to succeed.

A Member asked for a further explanation around bio-safety and genetically modified organisms.

The Department responded that DOA was represented on an interdepartmental Committee, comprising also of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), the Department of Health (DOH) and other government departments to ensure that the Genetically Modified Organisms Council approved all genetically modified organisms that came into the country. The Department had employed independent scientists to make assessments and recommendations to the Genetically Modified Organisms Council. The Council was approved by the Minister. Last year the Committee had requested a workshop. 

Ms Ntuli asked whether the assistance rendered through the Department’s economic development and livelihood programme was sufficient to enable beneficiaries to earn a sustainable livelihood.

Ms Ntuli then commented that she had some experience as a poultry farmer. She asked what kind of enterprises the 27 poultry enterprises were, and whether they reared egg-layer or broiler chickens. If they were broilers, she asked how many chickens each farmer would be able to rear per cycle of 45 days, and what grade of chicken was being reared. She pointed out that whilst new-born chicks cost only R2 each, chicken feed currently cost about R4 000 a ton. She noted that if there was a sincere wish to develop farmers, then the sum of R3 000 was so small as to be “derisory” and made a mockery of the projects intended to develop the people.

Mr Abram said that one could not even buy a bag of starter feed with such an amount.

Ms Ntuli agreed that to buy three bags of feed – ‘starter’, ‘grower’ and ‘finisher’, the farmer needed R10 000. She added that these calculations were for food alone, and the costs of medication, heaters and other equipment must also be taken into account. There was also the need to consider losses through mortality as even with a healthy batch of chickens, there was likely to be around a 5% mortality rate.

The Acting Deputy Director-General for Livelihoods, Economics and Business Development explained that this programme aimed to promote household food security, rather than wider economic development, as it was essentially a scheme that dealt with social aspects. It was based on the idea that if a household could be enabled to obtain 25 egg-laying chickens, who could each lay up to two eggs per day, then 50 eggs would be sufficient for the household’s food security. Food security was the purpose of the scheme.

Ms Ntuli questioned whether the Department was really alleviating poverty or unwittingly driving the people down into a deeper mire of poverty.

Ms Ntuli then asked the Department about its economic and business development programme. She would have thought that all the Deputy Directors-General in the Department should have  formed a planning committee, together with other departments and provinces,  to plan a methodology for creating agricultural businesses in the communities. However, the Annual Report and the presentation led her to conclude that the Department was instead working “in silos”, with each individual doing his own job in isolation. She suggested that ideally such a committee should be formed, and that Deputy Directors General should implement the plans of the Departments of Agriculture, Land Affairs and Trade and Industry. This would also encompass BBBEE and entrepreneur development. It was essential to sit together and discuss these reports to assess whether an impact was being made. She referred to farms in Bushbuckridge that still did not have pipes to receive the water that was being offered to them.

Mr P Ditshetelo (UCDP) said that this presentation must be related to the developments on the ground and improvements in the lifestyle of the people. The Committee had a duty to ask questions, for instance, to obtain an idea about the impact of these programmes on the emerging farmers. Members who were interacting with their farming constituents did not see much evidence of implementation of these programmes nor their value to farmers. The question must be asked whether such programmes had improved the lives of the people. He asked the Department to give an “unbundling”, by way of statistics, on the progress of cooperatives, to note and what value these had to emerging farmers.

Mr Ditshetelo asked if there were any particular reasons why funds that were made available and earmarked for fire and other assistance were not used in the North West, KwaZulu-Natal, and Limpopo to assist farmers, as he thought that the failure to do so was irresponsible. If there were difficulties in the utilisation of these funds, then he would like this to be explained, so that Members could then give explanations to their constituents.

The Acting Deputy Director-General for Livelihoods, Economics and Business Development responded that during his presentation he had mentioned several co-operatives that had been profiled. That was done precisely to show the impact of those co-operatives on the beneficiaries. When dealing with issues arising from high food prices it was necessary to consider the problem of high input costs Some fertiliser companies, following the DOA’s engagement with them, had made special concessions so that farmers could buy directly from them provided that they bought in bulk. This was possible only by using a cooperative, and bulk buying through cooperatives would help farmers to achieve economies of scale.

Mr Dlali launched a formidable critique of the Departmental presentation’s editing and proof-reading, before proceeding to attack its content, although he acknowledged that perhaps the legibility of the hard copy might have been degraded in the photocopying process. He noted that the errors, some of which he highlighted, showed that the Department had not checked the presentation, and this reflected poorly upon the presenters. He wanted to know why they did not review, revise and check their work. It was utterly unacceptable for the Department to come to the Committee with work that had not been properly prepared, as it assumed that the Committee would sit passively and accept the information without questioning its accuracy.

Moreover, Mr Dlali criticised the briefing team for just reading through the presentation, and not telling the Committee about what the Department was planning to do. When a challenge was identified, it was necessary to inform the Committee how that challenge would be addressed.

Mr Dlali referred to the livelihoods, economics and business development section, noting that the Department had spoken about lack of co-ordination in all spheres of government. However, when the Director-General had given her overview, she had praised the co-operation between two spheres of government but she had not mentioned local government. These statements were contradictory. Throughout the presentation there were implications that there was a serious lack of co-ordination.

The Acting Deputy Director-General for Livelihoods, Economics and Business Development responded to this point. He said the emphasis was on the social cluster, in which other departments such as the Departments of Education and Health were involved in food matters. Co-ordination was necessary to ensure that another departments would not begin to implement programmes that were essentially agricultural in nature, since these might fail to conform to the prescribed specifications.  There was a sub-committee of the social cluster and a task team to ensure co-ordination and liaise with provincial counterparts.

Mr Dlali said that the Department’s projection of the number of farmers to be awarded production loans: was 7 000, but that in the first six months only 29 farmers received such loans. He furthermore that when the Department had come to the Committee in 2007 it had promised an improvement of the inspecting personnel at the ports, projecting that 35 people would be appointed, but now the achievement was described as nil. This was especially important in respect of diseases such as those from China. Once again, in respect of bio-security and disaster management, the projection had been for three people for plant health, but the final result was again nil. In agricultural product inspection services, the projection was two, and the final result was once again nil. He said that this did not reflect the performance that the Department was asserting. 

Mr Dlali added that these questions also related to the funds that the Department should have spent. He had been informed that there were certain monies that had been returned by the service providers on account of inability to spend those monies. He asked if the Department had established a monitoring and evaluation plan to ensure that service providers fulfilled their obligations. R11 million had been allocated in the medium term. He asked if it would all be spent.

Mr Nel asked if the Department monitored the smaller livelihood projects to ensure that money was well spent. 

Ms Njabulo Nduli said that the Department had strengthened its own monitoring and evaluation unit in order to address some of the challenges that the Department had identified. In terms of the concurrent function of agriculture, the Department of Agriculture remained at one end of the process. Once the Department had transferred money to the province or implementing agency, the DOA was essentially at the mercy of that organisation as to whether it had the capacity to perform its duties. The challenges of implementation might not rest at the national level but at the provincial level. The Department had strengthened its monitoring capacity to ensure that in accordance with the Division of Revenue Act the Department was able to track those activities. The Department’s presentation could never be complete without obtaining a picture of events at the point of delivery at the provincial level, not just at the national level point of dispensation. 

Mr Dlali said that, if he remembered correctly, the Committee had now heard on four occasions that the line of command for veterinary services was not harmonised (page 21 of the presentation). He asked why, as there were people employed and paid to correct such disharmonies.

The Department responded that it had signed a protocol with the MECs to ensure that they knew their responsibilities regarding veterinary services and animal health. The Department had also forwarded that protocol to the Heads of Departments. DOA had also signed a service level agreement with the directors of veterinary services to ensure that no areas were being left out. This was important because disease knew no borders. There was a proposal presently under consideration for returning veterinary services to the national level. The Department admitted that in the past five years there had been a lack of adequate policy implementation, but this shortcoming had evolved around the people, not the policies. 

Mr Dlali said, with regard to food security, that he had written a letter to the Eastern Cape Department of Agriculture in 2006/2007 requesting a certain report. To date he had not received the report. Monies expended in that project had not been properly accounted for.

Mr Dlali had been informed of an interdepartmental report under the leadership of the Department of Agriculture on the food crisis. He noted that at the very least, and as a matter of courtesy, the Committee should have been briefed.

Mr Dlali said that the Department should be called to engage with the Committee further. He was dissatisfied with this briefing, which he considered had been selective, as it tended to report only on the areas where there had been successes.

Ms Nduli said that there would not be enough time to respond in detail to all questions at the present time.

Mr Nel agreed that in future the Committee must set aside more time to engage with the Department.

The Chairperson said that it was quite clear that there were some issues on which follow-up was required.

Mr Abram asked, and the Chairperson ruled accordingly, that the Department provide written answers to those questions that it did not answer in the meeting.

The Chairperson congratulated the Department of Agriculture for being one of only seven departments to receive an unqualified annual report for 2007/2008. However, he pointed out that that fact did not necessarily meant that the Department was doing well overall.

The meeting was adjourned.

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